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St. Albert Gazette – Prayer group aims to fill bellies and souls

Forget paying it forward while in line for Timmies. St. Albertans who want to spread good cheer with the gift of food, can do so by participating in the Notes of Hope campaign.

The campaign is the brainchild of Layna Haley, founder of Kaleo, a non-denominational prayer group based in St. Albert. Haley is inviting the community to create cards with inspirational messages for residents who are less fortunate or maybe going through a rough patch.

The cards will be collected until the end of March and given to the St. Albert Food Bank for inclusion in the food hampers it distributes.

“Blessing the community is truly becoming what is the heart of the whole night,” said Haley about the prayer group, which started up last April.

When she decided to expand on that idea, the food bank seemed like a natural fit given that is where the group has been holding its monthly prayer nights.

In addition to kind words, Kaleo is also collecting food donations.

“We wanted to bless the food bank with that practical need of food, but we also want to bless the people that receive the food,” said Haley. “The Notes of Hope is a tangible way to connect with people to let them know that they’re loved, that they belong, that they matter.”

The message can be as simple and straightforward as “I’m thinking about you today” or “Hope you have a great day,” she said.

Two city businesses, Voodoo Hair Studio and Lahari Yoga Studio, are involved in the campaign.

Haley said she approached the owners because she knew both women had “big hearts.” She also needed locations where community members could easily pick up or fill out the cards.

Lauren Baril, owner of Voodoo, said the idea really spoke to her.

“I love the idea of the notes going out to people who maybe need something to brighten up their day,” she said. “Many people that are in the situation, that are accepting donations, aren’t necessarily feeling good about it. (The notes) could turn someone’s day around.”

Food bank usage has surged in recent months – up 30 per cent overall in 2015. Some families who have never used the service in the past have been accessing hampers, as the economic situation in Alberta continues to worsen.

Haley said she hopes that the campaign can expand to bring hope to other marginalized sectors of the community in the future and that ultimately sending well wishes to others will become synonymous with St. Albert.

“Your community becomes really strong when it’s built upon strong members,” she said.

Community members can create their Notes of Hope at Voodoo Hair Studio or Lahari Yoga – stations with paper, inspirational quotes, markers and other materials have been set up at both locations – or take a card to fill out at home. Both businesses are also accepting food bank donations. Visit voodoohair.ca and lahariyoga.ca for business hours.

Cards can also be dropped off to Layna Haley between Sunday morning masses at the St. Albert Alliance Church.

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